WASHINGTON — We have had it all in the last seven days, haven’t we? We’ve had heavy snow, freezing rain, rain, sleet, fog, lightning, wind and now thunderstorms — some which could be severe. Yes, that’s right. Severe thunderstorms are possible for Friday morning, so just add it to the list.
A strong cold front that’s situated across the central United States is already bringing severe weather across the U.S. from Texas to the Great Lakes region. Thunderstorms developing ahead of the front will bring a chance for some severe storms from the Ohio valley to the Gulf states and blizzard conditions around a developing area of low pressure over parts of the upper Midwest and the Great Lakes region. This front is continuing to travel eastward, bringing possible severe weather with it.
The D.C. area will continue to be in the warm sector as the front approaches the region. Temperatures Friday ahead of the front will likely near 60 degrees with a nice southerly wind bringing warmth from the Gulf of Mexico.
Expect rain to enter the region around 7 a.m., moving into the Shenandoah Valley – – with a chance of a few showers in the D.C. area. If rain doesn’t make it locally early in the morning, the dry time beforehand will give the D.C. region’s surrounding areas east of the Blue Ridge Mountains plenty of time to warm up, creating more instability. Winds will be breezy through much of the morning hours and through the first part of the afternoon as the front travels across the area. Rain and storms will flare up from the west to the east through the morning hours, most likely right after the morning commute. The front will finally clear the region in the early afternoon – 2 to 3 p.m. – taking the rain with it from the west to the east.
Mid-morning and early afternoon, there is a chance to see some severe storms in the region with the main threat being damaging winds. The area east of the Blue Ridge Mountains is currently outlined in a slight risk area, meaning there is an increased chance for the area shaded in yellow (see graphic) to experience severe weather – with strong winds being the main threat.
Within the area, there is still only about a 5 to 15 percent shot of seeing severe weather, but the chance is still relevant enough that I should mention it for Friday morning.
The threat for severe weather will move out by the early afternoon as clearing takes place from the west to the east. Winds will calm and temperatures will fall through the 50s in the afternoon and eventually through the 40s, ending up in the 30s overnight. So, Friday won’t be a washout and we’re only expecting rain and storms through the morning hours.
And if you are wondering about the rarity of severe thunderstorms in the winter months, we have had seven severe thunderstorm events in our area since 2000, all of them between 2005 and 2014, with the severe aspects mostly being damaging winds and a few cases of hail. The most recent was Jan. 11, 2014, when another advancing cold front triggered some straight line winds damage and also tornadic activity along the southern Virginia coast.
This weekend will be delightful with temperatures in the 50s once again! However, by next week, temperatures will fall into the 40s for daytime highs on Monday and continue to drop off, eventually landing in the 30s by Wednesday. Winter is not over yet, so enjoy the winter warmth!
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